Taking better travel photographs: 9 great composition tips


Photography is an art that few of us will every truly master. In the words of photographer Martin Parr, “Photography is the simplest thing in the world, but it is incredibly complicated to make it really work.” That said, we can always aspire to better things and these 9 top tips to achieve better composition in your photos, based on the work of photographer Steve McCurry, will be sure to help any travel photographer to think before they shoot.

Travel photography

The tips come courtesy of COOPH (The Cooperative Of Photography), a community-focused online mag about photography, and are as follows (video timings in brackets in case you want to jump to any particular tip):

#1 Rule of thirds (0.05)
#2 Leading lines (0.32)
#3 Diagonals (0:50)
#4 Framing (1:03)
#5 Figure to ground (1:21)
#6 Fill the frame (1:34)
#7 Center dominant eye (1:47)
#8 Patterns and repetition (2:05)
#9 Symmetry (2:30)

Watch the video below for examples and greater explanation:

Did you find this useful? Have you any comments or tips of your own that you’d like to add?

Comments (6)

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  1. Pats K. says:

    Great tips! All of these can be easily applied to any type of camera, from a professional SLR camera to an iPhone. Personally, on my recent trip to the Amazon rainforest, I used my iphone 5s (too hot, and too much trekking to carry around my big camera) and the photos turned out fantastic. My secret is #1, the rule of thirds, having your main object just off of centre makes for a better photo. Plus you can use filters on the iphone for that extra edge (although you won’t need to apply a filter to any photo taken in the Amazon rainforest!).

    Thanks again for the photo tips!

  2. Jordan says:

    This is such a great video! And a lot of these rules can apply not just to photography, but for people who love to sketch or paint the landscapes they see while travelling. Thanks for sharing!

  3. Paul Johnson says:

    That’s a good point from both of you. Of course, having a DSLR will allow you to control other aspects of your photography such as DOF, but the principles of the video are applicable to any camera, or indeed any medium.

  4. Tazz says:

    I really like the quote from photographer Martin Parr. I have never been a good photographer. I just capture my travel experiences with my camera but not sure if I ever wanted to be a better photographer. Maybe these 9 tips will make me a slightly better photographer…

  5. having just taken up photography I find this very useful. Using tools like photoshop and paintshop help improve the pictures if you haven’t quite got the balance right in the first place. I especially liked the phase on patterns.

  6. Great simple tips. Natural lines and patterns were of particular interest, and the comment about breaking the rules too. Thanks for sharing!

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